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Is Motivation for Terrorism Primarily Due to Identity or Economic Grievances?

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There are two main motivations, which cause a person or group to perform a political terrorist action. These people are motivated to perform these actions because their identity or culture is different than their opponents, or they have economic grievances such as poverty or unemployment, which they want to resolve. Certainly, some terrorists are uneducated, live in countries with corrupt governments and learn from a young age that violence and terrorism are an acceptable way of life.

In some cases this is true, but in more cases than not, it is culture, which is the main motivation for some forms of terrorism.

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Some terrorist groups perform and defend their actions as religious actions where they see violence as sacramental acts. Although local poverty and government corruption provide additional reasons for this group of terrorists to perform their acts, this essay argues that identity, religion, and culture are the main basis for their actions.

Al-Qaeda is one of the most well known terrorist groups in the world and was responsible for the terrorist attacks on September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center.

A fatwa is a legal opinion issued by a Muslim scholar and one had a passage, which was issued in turn by 5 leaders of Al-Qaeda that stated that group’s position on God and terrorism. (Hellmich, 45. ) In this passage, it states that, “Every Muslim who believes in God and hopes for reward to obey God’s command to kill the Americans and to plunder their possessions wherever he finds them and wherever he can. (Hellmich, 45. ) This passage shows how a powerful individual or group of individuals within the Muslim community is trying to influence some of their more fanatical brethren by proving them with religious reasons to perform terrorist attacks. Al-Qaeda was started by one of the most wanted men in the world today, Osama Bin Laden. Bin Laden in the past had sent tapes or videos to the United States which described either his plans for the future or his opinion on his or his group’s recent actions.

In a tape sent by his terrorist group in 2009, Bin Laden, whose face was covered in the video, expressed the reasoning for the September 11th attacks was due to the American support for Israel. (Gedalyahu, Tzvi B. “Al-Qaeda Blames 9/11 on US Support for Israel. “) According to the Fatwa, not only was it the support for Israel, which caused the terrorist attacks against the United States, but also the Americans were occupying holy Islamic land, and therefore were making, “a clear declaration of war on God, his messengers, and Muslims. (Lehrer, Jim. “Al Qaeda’s Fatwa. “). Not only does Al-Qaeda in this instance say that the entire United States is making a clear war on God, it explains that it is an individual duty for every Muslim who believes in God, and wishes to be rewarded from his God, that he must kill any American and “comply with God’s order. ” As a terrorist organization, Al-Qaeda clearly uses God not only as its basis for its attacks, but uses God as a motivation to corrupt more people in their society to attack Americans.

Although this is but one example of terrorism, this outlines the motivations and reasoning for why some radical Muslims would want to perform harmful terrorist actions towards innocent people. Al-Qaeda is a very good example of how religion influences people to perform terrorist activities against other people. Although religion is a main aspect of motivation for terrorism, it is not the only factor in terms of identity, which causes one group of people to attack another group. Culture and ethnicity is an equally large part of identity motivation as is religion.

If one group of people who feel that they are being invaded or occupied by another diverse group of people, it may cause, over time, increasingly violent and pro-active attacks against the ‘invaders or occupiers’. The struggle in Ireland between the IRA and the United Kingdom, which controlled Northern Ireland, is a very good example of this. The IRA was the Provisional Irish Republican Army and their goal was to get the British, who were in control of Northern Ireland, out of Ireland entirely so there would be one united Ireland and no more separation between the Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to the south.

In the south, the people of Ireland were mostly Catholic. However Northern Ireland was more mixed, including Catholics and Protestants, while the British were primarily Protestant. The IRA’s strategy was to use force and violence to cause the collapse of the Northern Ireland administration and to cause as much harm as possible for the British forces so that the British government would be forced to leave Ireland. (Cash, 717). The IRA performed numerous terrorist attacks, which involved harming and killing many innocent people in Northern Ireland.

They killed close to 1800 people including 600 innocent civilians to gain political freedom. (McKittrick, 81). The IRA was not hesitant at all when it came to performing these terrorist attacks because they wanted to send their message and obtain what they wanted, individualism. The IRA wanted to be free from the British who were in their country and wanted to have a unified Ireland. Another ongoing conflict, which has been taking place since the end of the Korean War in 1953, has been on the Korean peninsula.

South Korea is a well-established democracy while North Korea is one of the most, if not the most, corrupt countries in the world. An absolute dictator, Kim Jong Il, runs North Korea. Kim Jong Il has corrupted the government in North Korea to such a great extent, that he is ultimately responsible for every military and governmental decision. The people in North Korea mostly do not benefit from this type of government structure as it causes for a lot of poverty and unhealthy living conditions. (Habib, 388). Kim Jong Il rules by using his power as a source a fear.

If a person or a group of people does not want to obey Kim Jong Il’s orders, they can easily be arrested, imprisoned or even killed. This cult results in terrorist activities that emanate from North Korea. Kim Jong Il runs a police state based on his assumed status as being a direct descendent God. If the people who are part of the North Korean regime want to benefit from what the regime provides, they have to do exactly what their leader tells them. North Korea has been under investigation since 2007 for allegedly helping Syria build a nuclear reactor, which was not for peaceful purposes.

It was destroyed in an air attack by Israel in 2007. (“Syria ‘had Covert Nuclear Scheme'” BBC News). The United States has a list of state sponsors of terrorism, to which Syria belongs. The answer as to why North Korea would help Syria build a potential terrorist weapon is fairly simple. By North Korea aiding Syria, Kim Jong Il received aid (likely hard currency) in order for him to keep his regime in power. (“State Sponsors of Terrorism. ” US Department of State. ) The culture of North Korea and the fact that is it a police state are what allow Kim Jong Il to maintain his regime.

Although North Korean culture is a major reason that motivates Kim Jong Il to perform terrorist attacks, the economic situation of North Korea contributes as well. In March 2010, a North Korean submarine or mine sank a South Korean naval vessel apparently, which killed just over 100 of the crew on board. North Korea is an extremely poor country and spends much of its resources on defense and security to keep its regime in power. (“South Korean Navy Ship Sinks, North Link Played Down. ” Reuters. com. North Korea has been very frustrated with South Korea’s positive financial position. Since the government of North Korea is so corrupt, it results in a lot of poverty and poor living conditions. After this terrorist attack, North Korea was offered additional aid by the international community. It is apparent that North Korea’s economic grievances have caused terrorist attacks as frustration has built seeing their neighbor succeed economically. North Korea has committed state sponsored terrorism to extort economic benefits from western countries.

It has supplemented this with providing nuclear technology to Syria. North Korea continues to be a problem for the international community to this day. The reason why poor economic situations and poverty lead to terrorist motivations is because if a country is poor and corrupt, low incomes will create political grievances among some civilians and then caused some of them to become political extremists. This poverty may also cause some people to extend invitations to terrorist groups and find people who are experiencing the same social and economic problems.

It seems there is always someone or something to blame for these unfortunate situations, and in many cases, these people look to their supposed enemies, whether it is specific countries, religious groups, or political parties as the root of their problems. In a number of analyses completed regarding the economic situations of many countries and their related terrorist activities, many of the assumptions about highly active terrorist countries are apparently incorrect.

Firstly, in terms of government corruption, it has been proved that governments, which integrate a certain amount of democracy, are more likely to be involved in terrorist attacks. The assumption, which is usually made, is that a corrupt government which is highly authoritarian will be in control of a country which is most likely to be involved in terrorist acts. But from this study, it is proven otherwise. As well, higher levels of GDP per capita, as well as lower levels of poverty, are more likely to result in terrorist activities. As well, many terrorist groups prefer more educated terrorists to perform more important acts. Burgoon, 176). This contradicts the assumption that the educationally deprived are a significant demographic factor for terrorism as terrorist groups prefer people with at least a high school education to carry out more dangerous and important terrorist acts. However, in some cases, corrupt governments that lack a true democratic system can cause corruption and violence and ultimately terrorism within its borders and in their given country. Specifically, drug trafficking and drug violence is a huge problem in Mexico where the government does not intervene on a consistent basis at best, or is complicit at worst.

Gangs, or “cartels” as they are referred to in Mexico, are often struggling for new territory among themselves in order to smuggle drugs into the United States. (“The Geopolitics of Mexico: A Mountain Fortress Besieged. ” Stratfor. com. ) Currently in Mexico, two cartels are struggling for power in Nuevo Leon State. The Los Zetas cartel and the New Federation have taken control of some taxi drivers in Mexico and now have them working as spies for their respected cartels. This has caused many taxi drivers to be brutally attacked and killed. In addition to the taxi driver attacks, there have been numerous attacks among the cartels recently.

Many people from opposing cartels have often been found either shot dead or murdered with severed heads in plastic bags around the area. (“Mexico Security Memo. ” Stratfor. com. ) Although this violence is within the same country, this violence among the cartels can be referred to as Narcoterrorism. Narcoterrorism is violent and harmful terrorist like attacks on people coming from a source that is involved with drug smuggling. This Narcoterrorism in Mexico is largely due to the lack of opportunities in Mexico. The one party system in Mexico is very corrupt and does little to stop the violence and corruption going on in the streets.

The government is not investing enough money in order to create better lives for people who are not well off. In Mexico, in general, people are very rich or very poor. There is not a real middle class. The levels of corruption in the government, army, and police forces throughout Mexico continue to enable terrorist activities to continue to the detriment of a stable growing economy. This essay addressed the question of whether terrorist political violence was primarily due to identity or economic grievances are argued that it was primarily due to identity and culture.

Terrorist political violence has many root causes, but when looking at terrorist activity that has occurred from Al-Qaeda, the IRA, and in North Korea, it is apparent that the root cause for their actions has to do with their identities. Although Al-Qaeda’s actions are strongly based in religion, the IRA as well as North Korea have justified their actions based on their identities, as they trying to intimidate their enemies and solidify themselves as powers within in their respective countries.

The North Korean army and its agents under the direction of Kim Jong Il are responsible for terrorist activities due to culture present in North Korea. Culture and identity are a more significant cause for terrorist political violence compared to economic grievances. Although factors for both may cause terrorist actions, it is largely based on identity. The difference in beliefs, ethnicity, or governmental systems trigger terrorist activities. Although economic factors will often play a part in terrorist actions, the difference between groups will, more often than not, be the root cause for violence between them.

Cite this Is Motivation for Terrorism Primarily Due to Identity or Economic Grievances?

Is Motivation for Terrorism Primarily Due to Identity or Economic Grievances?. (2017, Mar 23). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/is-motivation-for-terrorism-primarily-due-to-identity-or-economic-grievances/

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